Gerek Meinhardt. Photo Credit: U.S. Olympic Committee
Q: How has Italy been so far?
A: I got some good rest last night and had some good pasta, so that's always important. The team went and had some gelato after dinner and it was awesome, so I'm sure we'll be back there every other night at least on this trip.
Q: What's the foil team's favorite flavor?
A: Nutella. Definitely.
Q: You're coming back to the Worlds as the reigning bronze medalist. Is there a lot of pressure that comes with that?
A: It's definitely different, but there's not really any pressure for me because I had surgery on my knee right after I won the bronze medal. So I've just been working hard to improve myself, training every day to get back here and get a solid result after last year, but I'm mainly looking to use this as my start to performing well again after the surgery.
Q: How was recovery?
A: Well, I tore my meniscus three times and I wasn’t able to put weight on my knee for two months. Pretty much, January and February I was using crutches and I had a scooter to get around Notre Dame’s campus. So that was great in the winter with the snow and stuff.
Q: The men’s foil team always looks like you guys have a lot of fun together. How do you describe the dynamic of the team?
A: We’re all pretty close. We’ve all traveled a lot together and since we’re all pretty young, we went to all the junior competitions, all the same cadet competitions. Some of us are on the same team at home as well, so that helps a lot. We’re all about the same age. We’re with each other all the time, so we might as well have fun, you know? God knows we have a lot of time to kill, we might as well have a good time entertaining ourselves.
Q: What do you guys do in your downtime?
A: The men’s foil team loves snacks. So we’ll sit around, stream some online show and just talk and eat snacks. That’s our favorite way to kill time to be honest.
Q: Speaking of food, what’s your favorite food?
A: My favorite food’s always been pasta, so being in Italy works out well for me. It’s not necessarily the healthiest food, but definitely my favorite so I’m looking to find some tortellini around here. We found a place that was good yesterday, but no tortellini yet.
Q: Do you have any pre-event rituals?
A: Not really. Last year, Miles [Chamley-Watson] and I, in our little honeymoon suite woke up at like three in the morning the morning of the event. We were really antsy and anxious and couldn’t fall back sleep, so we helped each other out and got a few screams in and it worked out pretty well for both of us. We’ll see if that becomes a ritual. Since we’re fencing in the afternoon this time, it probably wouldn’t be good to be screaming at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Q: Any truth to the rumor that the team is getting Mohawks before the team event?
A: No truth at all. Maybe in the future sometime, but Miles needs to give us a little more notice ahead of time next time to see if we could pull it out. Maybe for a Grand Prix series or something.
Q: You could get Olympic Mohawks with red, white and blue…
A: That won’t be happening. We do have the new Leon Paul masks, though, that we’ll be sporting the red, white and blue on.
Q: Do you listen to music before you compete?
A: Yeah, but nothing specific. I don’t have a set playlist or anything, but I listen to a bunch of music. Depends on how I’m feeling that day. I usually do some of the more current hip hop or rap or something like that.
Q: What advice do you have for young fencers?
A: Whenever I talk to young fencers, I try to stress how important it is to have fun and enjoy yourself when you’re fencing. Obviously, you shouldn’t be at practice just goofing around and not focusing when you’re supposed to be fencing, but, to a certain extent, you definitely need to enjoy yourself and love it, because that’s going to be what makes you go back to the gym every day and wanting to improve and get better. I always found that I don’t really get tired in practice because I really just enjoy fencing and love the sport.
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